The Journal: Random Thoughts

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Random Thoughts
* In today’s “Of Interest”
* Yesterday
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“In my case all painting… is an accident. I foresee it and yet I hardly ever carry it out as I foresee it. It transforms itself by the actual paint. I don’t in fact know very often what the paint will do, and it does many things which are very much better than I could make it do.” Francis Bacon (via The Passive Voice)

“Anything you can make, you make by accident. … you have to know what you do, not how, when you do it.” Francis Bacon (via The Passive Voice)

Random Thoughts

I started this post yesterday during a break in the novel and was going to finish it this morning. Well, I did finish it this morning, but not in the way I expected to finish it. So here are some random, possibly disjointed thoughts.

Last year for a time I lost the energy for writing. I wrote hardly any fiction for a few months in a row. For me personally, it was a horrible, terrifying time. That’s some distance behind me now, and I hope never to see such a time again.

I was seemingly spurred back to action by a guy who commented that perhaps I could be “smug” about NaNoWriMo when I wrote 50,000 words in a month again.

To be clear, I think NaNoWriMo is fine. IMHO, telling people to “write sloppy” intentionally is not. That’s the part of NaNoWriMo with which I have a problem. I will always advocate that you write to the best of your current ability the first time through. To me, doing anything else just doesn’t make sense. I’m far too lazy to do the same work two, three or more times. I’d rather do it once and be done with it.

Some days I just don’t feel like writing fiction. When that happens, I don’t write fiction. I find something else to do. Or more likely, I already have something else to do.

And I don’t beat myself up about it. That’s because now, by and large, I’m a fiction writer. It isn’t some elevated calling and it doesn’t make me better than anyone else. I feel all right calling myself a fiction writer because on most days I actually write fiction. It’s not only what I do but it’s become what I am.

But (I hasten to add) at the beginning a very short 6 years ago, I didn’t allow myself that luxury. I was learning to trust myself, and when I’m learning, there’s no time for laxity. There’s time only for dedication to the tast at hand. It’s just the way I’m put together.

One guy wrote recently in an email that he has “half a dozen” workshops in his queue waiting for him to watch them. That’s fine. I personally couldn’t do that, though. I would have to binge watch while taking notes just in case the person presenting the workshop provided that one spark that turned my life around. Different strokes. Fortunately we are not all the same. Variety, spice, all that.

But back to my own beginning 6 years ago. For the first two or three years, I was determined to write every day. Period. Yes, I missed. And on days when I missed, I felt like a miserable failure. That is not a good feeling. But a miss was quickly filed in the past as my daily word count goal reset to zero each morning. In fact, I first started using a daily word count goal not to count numbers but to force myself to get to the writing ‘puter every day.

Now when I have a non-writing day, scheduled or otherwise, I just don’t write. But now is different. Now when I don’t write, I know the writing is waiting for me to come back.

Now I’m aware that the stories are ongoing even when I’m not accessing them and looking in on them via my creative subconscious. They’re ongoing and waiting for me to drop in and record them. I’m not making them up. They’re giving me something to do.

Yesterday the same writer who has workshops in the queue also wrote that he “can hardly even comprehend hundreds of thousands of words spilling out of [his] brain.”

My response was easy: neither can I. I just sit down at the keyboard, check in on the story, and write it as it unfolds, one word and sentence at a time. Stephen King and countless others say the same thing. It isn’t about eating an elephant or writing a novel; it’s about taking a bite or writing one sentence. Then another and another. Like that.

My daily word count goal now is 4,000 words per day. At the end of my writing day, when my brain develops a fog, if I’ve written less than 3.000 words I’m annoyed. If I’ve written over 4,000, I feel good. But I don’t live on numbers. I just record them and watch them grow.

In today’s “Of Interest” is a link to a post that asks what you do to recharge your battery or refill your well for writing. It reminded me of back when I used to tell people they needed to do that. Back when I thought the stories and novels I would eventually write would be “my” stories, not my characters’ stories.

As I read that post, I was confused. But again, that’s just me. My first thought was that I get only four to six hours per day to write fiction. That’s a tiny slice of the day that occurs after I write and post the Journal (most days) and before my brain goes foggy.

That leaves me with 18 to 20 hours of time every day when I’m not able to write fiction. So why would I want to interrupt or replace that tiny slice of fiction-writing time with some other activity? But as always, your life and results might vary.

Yesterday I had a more or less slack day with only around 2800 words. I’m a little disappointed, but as Wes Crowley says, that’s why they make tomorrows.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Crash Course in Storytelling” (a FREE online course) at

See “Is a Child Serial Killer Born Bad?” at

See “8 Facts About Police Detectives You’re Probably Not Getting Right” at

See “Day Nine: Writing a Novel in Half a Month” at

See “Hobbies, Activities, and Creative Pursuits” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1090 words

Writing of The Journey Home: Part 7 (novel)

Day 1…… 6065 words. Total words to date…… 6065
Day 2…… 3887 words. Total words to date…… 9952
Day 3…… 3170 words. Total words to date…… 13122
Day 4…… 3862 words. Total words to date…… 16984
Day 5…… 3905 words. Total words to date…… 20889
Day 6…… 2845 words. Total words to date…… 23734
Day 7…… 2480 words. Total words to date…… 26214
Day 8…… 2857 words. Total words to date…… 29071

Total fiction words for February……… 95013
Total fiction words for the year………… 192490
Total nonfiction words for February… 20080
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 45410
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 237900

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 3
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 2
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 57
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 215
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as the only writer who advocates it both regularly and publicly, I will continue to do so.